For years, Penn students would trek all the way to 45th and Baltimore to get their weekend brunch fix–with a BYO twist. Now, the walk for some of the best eggs in Philly just got a whole lot shorter. On Feb. 5, Renata's Kitchen opened a new two–story restaurant at 3940 Baltimore Ave. And while it won't be BYO, it's expanding its menu to include full dinner service.
Kate Aiq, co–owner and manager, explains that the jitters and nerves dissipated almost immediately, finding that the new branch, located in the space formerly used by Trolley Car Station, “kind of felt like home right away.”
She's right—the large windows and welcoming staff offer a sense of comfort the second you walk through the door.
Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, the newest location will offer guests the menu favorites they typically enjoyed at the 45th Street location. In addition, a couple of mezzes have been added to the menu, providing a sneak peek for what the dinner will look like.
The new location, seven times the size of the old one, is able to accommodate more guests. The restaurant features a second story of seating, which alone has 100 seats, while the kitchen itself is almost the same size as the old location—so they're ready to take on more customers.
Aiq explains that this expansion was inspired by a desire to serve more people at a time. She says, “On the weekends, we were just turning away so many customers, almost as many or more than we could seat. And the customers that we were seating were cramped on top of each other, and we couldn’t give a proper dining experience, in the small space, because we had just grown in popularity.” This restaurant allows her to see more of the Penn community.
Aiq explains, “Having the space to really expand and kind of dive deeper into cuisine that we really like, which is Middle Eastern … We’re planning on doing a lot of shared family–style meals and a lot of mezze and fresh salads. And having the space and tools that we need to execute that properly is something that I’m really looking forward to.”
A friend of Aiq's asked if the restaurant would be interested in the Trolley Car Station space when it became available, and they immediately were set on it.
With the move closer to Penn’s campus and University City, they do hope to see more students. Aiq explains that they typically see more West Philly residents at the 45th Street location, but hopes that regulars will still travel to the new location. She says that there were many familiar faces on opening day.
The restaurant currently awaits approval for a liquor license, but once this licensing process completes, they will begin a dinner service. Once the dinner service begins, the restaurant will not close until 10 or 11 p.m.
The original Renata's is temporarily closed so that full attention can be given to the expansion, but it will reopen and remain apart of the Renata’s family. This location is intended to operate as a cafe with its own flavor and offer light bites.
Aiq explains, “We found that that space is really important to our community, and we don’t want to take that away from them. And we really liked, loved, being there."
Location: 40th St. Portal, 3940 Baltimore Ave
Hours: Monday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., with dinner service to start in the near future.